LIPI urges govt to tackle discrimination issues

The Jakarta Post, page 4

The Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) has urged the government to immediately in corporate regulations stipulated under the Anti- Discrimination Law into existing election laws amid lingering ethnic, religious, racial and social group (SARA) sentiments among the public following the divisive Jakarta gubernatorial election.

LIPI political researcher Irine Hiraswari Gayatri said in a discussion on Wednesday that the exploitation of SARA sentiments against Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian of Chinese descent, during the campaign season was not a frivolous matter.

This issue, she said, had cost the nation, as it not only affected Jakarta voters, but also citizens in other regions, including children, as discriminatory remarks against the governor were widely spread through social media platforms, at mosque and on banners across the city.

Citing an example of hate speech, Irine said she saw an elementary school student in Jagakarsa, South Jakarta, who made a pantun (quatrain reading) that said Muslims should not vote for Ahok.

She said the Jakarta election, regardless of its result, severely impacted residents, as it taught them diversity is bad. A sense of unity has left as people were influenced [to believe] that a leader must be Muslim, even though the election was about voting for governor, not an imam for shalat.

On Tuesday, non-governmental group Cahaya Guru Foundation, which specializes in training teachers, suggested that the Jakarta election affected how students in some regions elected leaders for official student organizations (OSIS).

Citing an official report from the Culture and Education Ministry, Henny Supolo, chairwomen of the foundation, said several students in some schools in Singkawang, West Kalimantan, and Salatiga, Central Java, said they did not want to have non-Muslim OSIS leaders.

Irine added that with the upcoming regional election in 2018 and presidential election in 2019, the exploitation of SARA issues could continue, especially in Muslim-majority regions, such as West Java, East Java, South Sulawesi and West Sumatra. For that reason, Irine said, the government needs to quickly incorporate regulations under Law No. 40/2008 on Elimination of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination in both its regional and national election laws.

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